Cebu City

The City of the Island

Cebu is a province in Region VII, Central Visayas Region of the Philippines with a namesake city as its capital. The name of the province and city is derived from the word “Sibu” which means “trade,” as the island's history stems from being an important trading center.

As of 2020, the Cebu City population was at 964,169 people, growing from about 866,200 people since 2010. Cebuano is the language generally spoken at home in 99 percent of households. Christianity in the form of Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion at about 80 percent of the population of Cebu City. Carmelite Cebu, a monastery in the city, is among the most popular places of worship among the faithful.

Cebu, and the rest of the Philippines, eventually fell under Spanish rule, with Cebu City industrialized through the years. It is considered as the oldest city in the Philippines.

To this day, the imprint of Spanish colonization and Roman Catholicism is evident in Cebu City, starting with the Sinulog festival held every third Sunday of January that celebrates the Santo Niño.

(Photo via KMCSolutions)

Brief history of Cebu

Prior to Spanish occupation, Cebu formed part of the island rajahnate of Pulua Kang Dayang. In 1521, a Portuguese navigator arrived in the island-city commissioned by the Spanish monarch. When Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu, Rajah Humabon welcomed him. He explored the island, traded goods and supplies, and converted many locals into Christianity. Even leaders, including Rajah Humabon, have accepted the new belief system. Nonetheless, there are those who pushed back, not only against the new religion, but also the occupation of foreigners.

The datu of Mactan, for one, was among the leaders of the resistance. Lapu-Lapu’s religion was animism. Ultimately, the opposition led to a clash against the camp of Magellan in what was now famously called the Battle of Mactan. It was in this encounter that the Portuguese conqueror was killed. Today, Rajah Lapu-lapu is honored as a hero for resisting foreign rule. Cebu province has various landmarks and statues bearing the name of the local hero.

The imprint of Spanish colonization and Roman Catholicism is evident in Cebu City, starting with the Sinulog festival held every third Sunday of January that celebrates the Santo Niño.

A growing demand for condo units

Data culled by Lamudi Philippines, the country’s premier property portal, show that while majority of property seekers looking for homes in Cebu prefer house and lot types, a growing number of potential homebuyers are looking at residential condo units.

Based on Lamudi’s most recent data on Cebu for 2019, the page views for house lot property types in Cebu was at 47.91 percent while those looking for condos was at 22.22 percent. In terms of sessions, or those who actually stayed longer on the listing pages of house and lots in Cebu, the figure was at 48.71 percent compared to 21.39 percent for condo seekers. The leads generated, or the number of searches that turned into actual queries on those properties, was at 38.30 percent for house and lot searches and 20.90 percent for condo units.

A number of property seekers who used Lamudi were also interested in looking for apartments, land, and foreclosed properties. Among the areas in Cebu that property seekers were looking at, Cebu City got a majority of those, capturing more than half of the total figures for page visits, sessions, and leads. This was followed by Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue, Talisay, Consolacion, Minglanilla, Liloan, Balamban, Cordova, and Naga.

Lamudi’s Cebu data also show that a slight majority of the property seekers prefer to buy properties in Cebu compared to those looking for homes that could be rented, particularly in terms of page views and sessions. However, when it comes to leads generated, those who were looking for rental properties outnumbered those who were looking for properties to buy.

Females and millennials power growing demand for properties

While majority of the property seekers were based in Cebu City, there were also those who were from Quezon City, Makati City, Manila, Bacolod, Davao City, Iloilo, Angeles City, Lenexa, and Lapu-Lapu City. In terms of gender and demographics, female property seekers slightly outnumbered their male counterparts when it comes to page views and sessions. However, in terms of leads, 76.30 percent of female property seekers actually generated inquiries on properties that they were interested at compared to just 23.70 percent for male property seekers. Majority of those who searched for properties in Cebu came from the younger market that belong to the 25- to 34-year-old bracket, or those commonly referred to as millennials. This was followed by those from the 35- to 44-year old age group, then by those who were between 45 and 54 years old and by those who belong to the 55- to 64-year old bracket.

According to Lamudi, there was a 274 percent increase in terms of leads among property seekers who used the property portal in 2018 compared to 2017, a reflection of the demand for Cebu’s growing and booming real estate sector. In 2018, the number of property seekers that used Lamudi to search for properties on a monthly basis seemed to be consistent. The vibrant residential landscape also spells tremendous potential for the retail and commercial property markets in the province, particularly in its metropolitan areas. Lamudi’s Cebu data offers valuable insights to investors seeking to acquire assets in the prime location.

According to Colliers International, Metro Cebu remains a key retail destination outside Metro Manila because it is the second largest outsourcing hub in the country and is among the major sources of overseas Filipino workers. Several malls that are expected to rise in various townships will account for 90 percent of new retail space from 2019 to 2021. Outsourcing and offshore gaming companies, on the other hand, will continue to get the lion share of office space demand in Cebu over the next couple of years.

Economic Background

(Photo via MegawideCebuAirportCorporation)

The rapid economic development of Cebu City, as well as the wider Cebu province, has been referred to as Ceboom since the early 1990s. This has resulted in a modern urban skyline and a widening middle class, as Cebu City continues its growth into current and future generations.

In Region VII, which includes the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor, the labor force as of April 2018 stood at about 5.26 million people, slightly improving from 5.18 million people in April 2017, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. The employment rate was at 94.3 percent, representing a progressive region that is led by the province of Cebu and Cebu City.

Cebu ranked 8th worldwide in the Top 100 BPO Destinations Report by Tholons, a global advisory firm, showing the importance of the business process outsourcing industry to the city’s economy. Cebu City’s proximity to islands and beaches, hotels and resorts, and heritage sites have also kept its tourism industry running. The city also serves as the tourist gateway to Central and Southern Philippines due to its geographic location and accessibility to all forms of transportation, including the Port of Cebu which is the second largest port in the country after Manila.

The business process outsourcing and offshore gaming industries are fueling the economic growth of Cebu City, and they account for most of the office space demand, according to Q1 2019 Cebu Property Market Reports of Colliers International Philippines. This demand has fueled investments for the creation of more office space, and Colliers expects the delivery of 453,700 sq.m. of new supply from 2019 to 2021. Of the new space, 56 percent is expected to be in the main business districts of Cebu City.

The growing demand and the upcoming supply will go hand in hand with a 4 percent annual increase in rental rates for office spaces in the next three years, Colliers said. The fastest acceleration of rents will be in the 27-hectare Cebu IT Park and the 50-hectare Cebu Business Park, so companies thinking of putting up offices in these areas should lock in available space as soon as they could.

The Cebu IT Park and the Cebu Business Park will not only open up office spaces though, as the mixed-use communities will also give rise to retail spaces in the form of major shopping malls.

Colliers expects almost 90 percent of the 259,000 sq.m. of new retail supply from 2019 to 2021 to be developed in integrated communities across Metro Cebu. Food & beverage and clothing brands will be interested in taking retail spaces as soon as they are available, to take advantage of the increasing purchasing power of people in Cebu City.

Similar to office space rentals, Colliers expects a 4 percent increase per year for rental rates of retail spaces, with faster acceleration in malls nearby and within business districts. While vacancies will increase from 2019 to 2021 as the construction of new spaces are completed, the vacancies are expected to decline beyond 2021, as Colliers project greater absorption from retailers.

Meanwhile, in the residential space, the business and employment opportunities in Cebu City have propelled the demand for both vertical and horizontal developments. The constant stream of tourists has also resulted in higher demand for condominium units, as Cebu maintains its spot as the largest condominium market outside of Metro Manila.

The "Historic Resort City" of Lapu-Lapu is also one to watch out for as the local economy underwent unprecedented leaps and bounds due to its rich and diverse economic sector. An industrial center in the Visayas region, it is both a historic site and an economic powerhouse. In 2018, Lapu-Lapu City landed on the 25th spot in the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index Council, which ranks cities and municipalities all over the Philippines based on the sum of their scores on four Pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, Infrastructure and Resiliency.

Aside from the Mactan airport, which is the second busiest airport in the country due to its strong tourism sector, Lapu-Lapu also boasts of a sound and impeccable transport infrastructure including bridges, ports, and highways to cater to its various industries. The Metro Cebu Expressway, a 74-kilometer road that connects the Cebu North Road in Danao and the Naga-Toledo Road in Naga, is among the much-awaited infrastructure projects in the region. An alternative north-south highway for Cebu, it’s expected to decongest traffic and facilitate better transportation for residents and businesses. The Metro Cebu Expressway will reduce travel time from three hours to only 70 minutes.

New industries have also further rejuvenated Lapu-Lapu City. It is currently home to almost 10,000 BPO and office workers and an eco-zone under Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

The condominium market in the city is also expected to experience a sustained demand. In fact, Colliers Philippines sees the city will have the concentration of the additional condominium stock in Metro Cebu.

Developments like Megaworld's Mactan Newtown township are bolstering the economy and property sector by housing and attracting new industries, professionals, and aspiring property investors in the city.


(Photo via CebuHoldings)

Future projects and infrastructure

The influx of a range of business establishments and the infrastructure development projects in Cebu that are currently ongoing and in the pipeline under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration are expected to act as catalysts in the province’s remarkable economic growth and spur further property development projects there. Some of the proposed projects in Cebu include fire station facilities, health centers, and jail buildings across the province.

(Photo via SkyScrapperCity)

Metro Cebu Expressway

A flurry of construction activities are currently ongoing in the province to address some development headaches that have accompanied the province’s economic growth. These include big-ticket projects such as those aimed at resolving Metro Cebu’s vehicular traffic problem and ease of mobility, like the 74-kilometer Metro Cebu Expressway and a third bridge that aims to link mainland Cebu to Cordova town in Mactan Island.

(Photo via CebuPortAuthority)

New Cebu Container Port

With an estimated project cost of over Php10 billion, the Cebu International Container Port will be built on a 25-hectare reclaimed land in Consolacion, Cebu. The project will include a berthing facility, operating facilities and structures for containers, an inspection shed, an access road and bridge, and a dredged waterway and turning basin.

(Photo via PhilippineLifestyle)

Cebu-to-Bohol Link Bridge

The project is slated to begin construction in 2021 and is expected to be finished by 2030. The 24.5-km bridge will link Cebu and Bohol to improve regional connectivity and enhance mobility enhancement and transport of goods and people between the two provinces.

(Photo via CarGuide)

Cebu-to-Negros Link Bridge

Like the Cebu-to-Bohol project, the project is slated to begin construction in 2021 and is expected to be finished by 2030. The 5.5-km bridge will link Cebu and Negros to enhance mobility and flow of goods and services; prioritize and operationalize new direct links to the island of Negros and Cebu, to support the increasing growth of tourism and agro-industry and further integrate regional economy. 2021 and 2030.

The Queen City of the South is expected to maintain its role as the region’s economic catalyst over the next several years, thanks to a booming industrial sector and a robust tourism industry that has been luring local and foreign tourists and spurring hundreds of related businesses not just in Cebu but in nearby provinces as well.

Public Facilities in Cebu City

(Photo via Edukasyon.ph)

Schools

  • University of San Carlos
  • University of the Philippines Cebu
  • University of San Jose – Recoletos
  • Cebu Normal University
  • Cebu Doctors' University
  • University of Cebu
  • University of the Visayas
  • Cebu Institute of Technology – University
  • Southwestern University
  • St. Theresa's College
  • University of Southern Philippines Foundation
  • Cebu Technological University
  • Asian Institute of Technology
  • Benedicto College
  • Cebu Institute of Medicine
  • Cebu Eastern College
  • Cebu International School
  • Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion
  • Don Bosco Technical College–Cebu
  • Sacred Heart School - Ateneo de Cebu
  • Salazar Colleges of Science and Institute of Technology

(Photo via Cebu City Tour)

Hospitals

  • Cebu Doctor’s Hospital
  • Chong Hua Hospital
  • St. Vincent General Hospital
  • Sacred Heart Hospital
  • Cebu Velez General Hospital
  • Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center
  • Doctors Specialty Reactive Medical & Diagnostic
  • Cebu City Medical Center
  • Perpetual Soccour Hospital
  • Visayas Community Medical Center

(Photo via Ayala Centre Cebu)

Malls/Entertainment Hubs

  • SM Seaside City Cebu
  • SM City Cebu
  • Ayala Center Cebu
  • Cebu ParkMall
  • Banilad Town Center
  • Colonnade Mall
  • Robinsons Galleria Cebu
  • E-Mall
  • Gaisano Country Mall
  • Mango Avenue and Mango Square
  • Crown Regency Hotel & Towers – Sky Experience Adventure

(Photo via DOYZKIE BUENAVIAJE)

Places of Worship

  • Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
  • Cebu metropolitan Cathedral
  • St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish
  • Our Lady of the Guadalupe Parish
  • Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish
  • Sacred Heart Parish
  • Redemptorist Church
  • Carmelites Monastery
  • Cebu Taoist Temple

(Photo via jeffponce blogspot)

Government Agencies

  • Cebu City Hall
  • Legislative Building
  • Yutivo Building
  • Department of General Services
  • Cebu City Transportation Office
  • Cebu City Health Department
  • City Civil Registrar’s Office
  • Department of Public Services
  • Department of Veterinary Medicine & Fisheries

Transportation Hubs

  • Mactan–Cebu International Airport
  • Cebu Port Authority
  • Cebu Ferry Terminal
  • Premium Point-to-Point Bus Service
  • South Bus Terminal

(Photo via inquirer.net)

Important Events

  • Sinulog Festival
  • Lifedance and Sinulog Invasion
  • Cebu Pop Music Festival
  • Cebu Reggae Festival
  • Tartanilla Festival
  • Semana Santa sa Bantayan

What to do in Cebu City?

Mall Hopping

If you want to experience life as a local, step into one of the most popular shopping malls in Cebu. SM City Cebu is a great place to take your kids to get out of the heat for a couple of hours with lots of activities. There is an ice-skating rink, children’s playground, and arcade where you can rack up tickets to win all sorts of prizes. Not to mention, SM Mall is located directly on the coast that offers gorgeous, unobstructed views of the water- perfect for a family photo.

I must warn you though: this mall is huge! There 4 quadrants with plenty of food, shopping, and benches that will quickly kill time.

Eat at Food Hubs

If you know anything about the Philippines, you’d know that lechon is a national dish that serves as the culinary pride and joy of this country.

In Spanish, “lechon” means, “suckling pig”- no surprise there. With the Spanish colonization, came this culinary gem, which is often roasted and eaten at large family gatherings and celebrations.

Lucky for you, however, you can get lechon any day of the week in Cebu when you visit Rico’s Lechon. This will be the most succulent, juicy, flavorful pork that you’ve ever had in your life. Served with rice and Pinakurat vinegar, this is sure to be a dish you’ll never forget.

Island Hopping

Cebu is surrounded by plenty of beautiful tiny islands with stunning white sand beaches and crystal blue water.

You’ll find many tour offices that offer island hopping packages, which span from half-day to full-day tours. Many of these packages include a delicious lunch where fresh mango is almost certainly involved.

These day trips will whisk you out on to the water in a catamaran and take you to destinations where you can snorkel over the reefs, fish with the locals and visit some small villages.

Popular Neighborhoods

(Photo via Spot.ph)

Real Estate Overview

With Cebu’s economic trajectory seemingly reaching stratospheric heights, business and employment opportunities in the province, particularly in metropolitan areas such as Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City, are propelling the demand for commercial, retail, and residential properties for both vertical and horizontal developments.

According to Colliers International’s 2019 property market report, the influx of high-spending foreign tourists are sprucing up demand for condo units in Cebu City. “The condominium market remains dynamic and developers need to be strategic in launching new projects. Additionally, they should target foreign tourists and further explore Mactan’s potential for residential projects; explore alternative house and lot sites; capitalize on upcoming infrastructure projects; and launch more resort-style condominiums,” it noted.

Tourist arrivals in Cebu increased by 14.33 percent or 698,849 tourists more in 2018 compared to 2017 figures, according to data from the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas. Cebu City remains the top destination for domestic travelers last year, registering 1,650,762 visitors. For foreign travelers, Lapu-Lapu City was their top choice, with 1,340,359 of them visiting it in 2018.

(Photo via Megaworld)

Megaworld’s Mactan Newtown

The Mactan Newtown, Megaworld’s luxurious and sophisticated integrated commercial and residential community in Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island, is fast becoming an ideal home base for tourists and business executives alike who yearn to have their footprints stamped in Cebu.

Located in one of the province’s prime commercial and tourism hotspots, The Mactan Newtown is a stone’s throw away from the province’s world class international airport. The 28.8-hectare sophisticated integrated community has its own beachfront and comprises four high-end office buildings, nine luxury residential condominium towers, a ton of leisure amenities and retail shops, beach facilities, an upscale hotel, and even a world-class learning institution. And with Cebu’s tourism sector reaching stratospheric heights, Megaworld plans to build five more hotels, including two by the beachfront.

Megaworld’s venture into putting up more hotels and recreational facilities is in line with Cebu’s exceptional tourism growth fueled by the continuing influx of visitors to the province. At least 2,000 more hotel and resort rooms are expected to be added to Mactan Island’s accommodation capacity to complement the existing 5,000 accommodation facilities in the island. Mactan Island has become a favorite investment playground among some of the country’s leading property developers.